I took a leap of faith after Ramadan. I started painting again. I started doing real fine art, after a 6 year old hiatus. In thinking of Allah’s names, Ash-Shakur and Al-Khabir, I learned that we show gratitude to Allah by utilizing the gifts he has given us. We can all develop skills, but he has given us each a talent for something or another. And our job is to use it in His Service…use the gifts He gives us by giving it to others. In Surah Al Adiyat, we are told that truly man is ungrateful and we bear witness to that by our deeds. So since Ramadan, I’ve been attempting to use my talents more. It’s not for me to hoard them, hide them, or be a miser. The gifts and talents do not belong to me. They belong to Allah and are a loan from Him, and as such, I must use them. This is something I knew as a child…on that fitra…only then did I express my gratitude to Allah by constantly using my artistic gifts, and now I feel the push and pull, the ebb and flow of an inner conflict boiling inside to reclaim that innate knowledge of the past to grow my arts and talents. That means a lot more writing…and a lot more art making.
I must say in my defense that I often do write to you, but I seldom publish those drafts, notes, and sketches until they reach a certain standard I’d be proud to share with you. I am a bit of a perfectionist. Something I must noticeably work harder at though is making art just for art’s sake and being consistent in all of these artistic endeavors. As I battle an off-and-on relationship with anxiety, I am realizing that these talents that I’ve been given are a medicine. Writing and art making heal me. There is no anxiety present when I’m in my flow of words and art. Five days after meditating on the name Ash-Shakur, I entered the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom’s art contest. Later that week, I learned that I won first prize. Alhamdulillah..it was a sign. Here is the prize-winning watercolor and colored pencil piece.
Later on, that week, I found myself again dabbling in my watercolors, after being commissioned to make a cover for a book of song-poetry. The author didn’t go for the piece–it didn’t suit her style or flow, but it suited mine just fine. It has since become my favorite piece to date of artworks that I’ve made. I even went out and bought a frame for it (which I never do). I laid my heart down on the page in that one…can you tell? (See picture above)
And this upcoming week, I’ve been invited to speak at an out-of-town engagement…as an author…by a group of beautifully supportive women who are pushing me to write and speak. Guess what my topic is on the agenda? Motivation. Yeah…inshAllah I’ll take my own advice ;).
So I’ve been humbled a lot this year. And I’ve been on all fours through the fear and tears of it all…which also led me to think a lot about animals (more on those reflections in later posts!), and so I wrote this poem.
On All Fours
Abd Al ‘Ali knows that only in the lowest position can we be elevated.
Like the noble animals who are perfect Muslims to their Lord.
We have much to learn from those who walk on all fours.
In birth, in tawbah, on all fours
when our foreheads reach the carpet
that is when we have arrived to higher heights.
Inshallah see you in Houston for the conference! And if not there, then some other place…in real life…on this blog…whether standing on two legs or crawling and crouching on all fours.